Filters & Sorting

What the “Whole Earth Catalog” Taught Me About Building Utopias

What the “Whole Earth Catalog” Taught Me About Building Utopias My mother threw away her copy of the Whole Earth Catalog long before I was born. Having endured so much use, it was in shreds, she tells me as I sit in the kitchen of her home near Golden, Colorado. She first purchased the manual when she was 14, growing up in the flower children era. She was deeply drawn to it, calling herself a devotée, she says, “because of the zeitgeist I was unconsciously a part of: that whole Aquarian Age,”

Retrospective: Theaster Gates

To sanctify a place, you might call a priest. Perhaps they would throw some holy water on it, anoint it with oil, or build an ornate palace for prayer. But for Theaster Gates, making a place sacred begins with repair; the holiness of a place is evidenced by care. Since the late 1990s, the Chicago‑based potter, performance artist and urban planner has created an empire out of materials and sites that speak to the Black experience, Black places and Black objects – to great international acclaim.

I Can’t Stop Thinking About the Dystopian Hotel in “A Murder at the End of the World”

Earlier this month, the internet paused to gawk at Mark Zuckerburg’s newest creation—not updates to his legless virtual fantasy world, but instead, a more critical look into his $100 million residential ‘compound.’ In particular, Wired took a deep-dive into the project, and found the residence will include a 5,000-square foot underground lair equipped with "energy and food supplies," making us all suspect that Zuck is readying himself for the end of the world. Perhaps it’s the hubris of a man wh

St. Louis Brick by Brick

To understand the history of St. Louis’s bricks is to unearth systems of power, economy, dispossession, decline, and manifest destiny; the storybook decorative brickwork we see today becomes a tale as complex—and as sinister—as American history itself. St. Louis is startling in its brickwork. Every home, it seems, is built from similar rust-colored bricks. Sometimes I wonder if, just as you can see the lights of New York and Chicago from the International Space Station, if you’d also be able to

Chicory roots: demolition, displacement and resilience

In the first years of the Covid pandemic, city dwellers returned their attention to the land – not only the relocators who decided to uproot and leave cities entirely, but also folks who began gardening on their rooftops or windowsills, or those who began walking outdoors to take notice of the abundant plant life in their neighbourhoods. I, too, am one of those people who took to small sojourns, taking comfort in learning the scientific names and taxonomies of nearby flora. But where I live in C

Tuning the Choir

To start a nonprofit, you need a very specific set of people, documents, and ideas: lawyers to draft articles of incorporation and tax-exempt status; a board of directors; and a document stating the mission, vision, and values of the organization. It can be a lengthy process, but the procedure to follow is clear. There are boxes to be checked and paperwork to be filed. The steps for building a movement—not just a nonprofit with actionable goals, but a means to bring about tangible, systemic chan

On the Home Front, a Latine Aesthetic’s Ordinary Exuberance

In 2006, as an undergraduate studying Christian sites and relics, I was taken by acts made in the name of transmission: embarking on long pilgrimages to find healing from sites of martyrdom; viewing bodies, clothing, or hair from virtuous beings past to receive their miracles; bringing home statuettes of saints to pass on their powers to family. We preserve these sacred rituals so that they might continue imparting their wisdom, yet these items and expeditions are made by humans and could, in an

Reconsidering Public Housing in America

The National Public Housing Museum is pluralizing the program’s mythic narrative When Lisa Yun Lee brought some early visitors to the former Jane Addams Homes in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood—the future site of the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM)—the site was derelict, vacant since the low-rise public housing development was shuttered in 2002. The painted walls had peeled, leaving cracks and paint chips in the rooms. “People would look at it and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so beautif

Revaluing emptiness in Chicago

Unused land, in the eye of capital, is wasted space, dormant and waiting to build wealth via development. In Chicago, among other Rust Belt cities, huge swathes of land are empty of buildings. More than 13,800 city-owned vacant parcels sit on the South and West Sides in predominantly Black and Brown neighbourhoods, a product of historical redlining that created Chicago’s segregated cityscape, exacerbating foreclosures and depopulation.

How buying a house activated all of my anxieties

Last year I decided to engage in the truest, purest act of banal suffering: I bought a house. Buying a house isn’t one action; it’s a series of actions: frantically scraping together every penny you have, talking to strangers (real estate agents and lenders), fighting with plumbers, and filling out paperwork. It’s a process that poked at each of my anxieties, from the sharp, short-term suffering of making phone calls to the bigger question of whether I had become my own worst enemy: a gentrifie